Is it really possible that we are just three and a half short months away from the start of the 2015 NFL regular season? Who am I kidding anyway? These 100 or so days leading up to the real season always seem to last an eternity. And although preseason does offer us an occasional storyline we can get really excited about, at the end of the day it’s nothing but a tremendous tease to the main course of meaningful regular season games. One month-long, painstaking production of mostly unwatchable football and players who will, for the most part, drift into anonymity and come to the realization that the dream is over.
With Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy taking on a more holistic approach to his job duties this season, however, the preseason games offer more intrigue and will give Packers fans a glimpse of the new direction this team will be taken in. Because make no mistake about it, this is a big change.
No longer will McCarthy be an offensive coordinator. For the first time in his career of calling plays, he will hand the reins over to a guy who has almost never called plays in the pros, Tom Clements. And when Clements did call plays briefly in Buffalo years ago, he was relieved of those duties rather quickly.
It will be very interesting to see how closely involved or if McCarthy will be able to remove himself enough from the offensive game plan and play calling to the point where Clements is actually running the offense. But let’s face it. From this point forward we’re all hoping it’s No. 12 who’s REALLY running the show.
Will Mike McCarthy really be able to sit back and enjoy the game more as a spectator and interject his voice over everything that happens rather than working with the offense all game? Are we going to see Big Mike on the sideline actually coaching guys up and motivating people?
It will now be Mike McCarthy’s job to make sure the team is focusing on the most important things during the game. Really, it has always been his responsibility to do that, but a track record of success afforded him the luxury of a blind eye, and only a perfect storm in Seattle brought the revelation to the forefront and forced major changes within the Packers organization.
Here are the top five things Mike McCarthy should be emphasizing this year.
1. Go For the Jugular
Too often this saying gets saved for when an opponent is on the ropes. Personally, I think it is a mindset a team should adopt for every minute of every football game. Go for the jugular. For 60 full minutes and more, if it’s necessary. Don’t wait to start going for the jugular. Strive for it with every play from the first one to the last.
If this Packers team plays with this mindset on both offense and defense this season, then Aaron Rodgers is going to get plenty of rest in the fourth quarter.
Until you’re pulled from the game because you’re up six touchdowns… GO FOR THE JUGULAR!
2. Change It Up Every Week
Richard Sherman’s big mouth is typically an asset for him, but he screwed up last year when he said a little too much in a relaxed interview. Sherman stated there were only a few teams in the league that actually change up their third down plays on a week-to-week basis. The Packers were not one of those teams.
Even though this article came out in time for the Packers to see it and make adjustments or additions to their third down play calls, based on the fact that Green Bay went 3 for 14 in the NFC Championship game against Seattle, it’s safe to say they missed it or ignored it. This is simply unacceptable and the Packers need to alter their strategy accordingly. The Packers must add new third down plays every week and continually keep defenses guessing.
3. Ferocity, Tenacity, and Controlled Anger
The Packers were more ferocious and tenacious than usual last year, but sometimes they bordered on the chippy and occasionally did things that were not representative of a smart football team.
The erudite football scholar who is aware of the big picture and the goals of the team must always remain present as the warrior is physically immersed in battle. The Packers have to find a way to play on that edge all the time… as physical and wild as is humanly possible, while still being able to, for lack of a better term, know right from wrong.
We saw Mike Daniels run a guy down to get in his face when the Packers defense wasn’t even on the field. We saw T.J. Lang take a 15-yarder for unnecessarily hitting a guy after the whistle. We saw numerous pushing matches after the play was over, too. Although I feel these things will happen when you take a more physical and aggressive mindset, the Packers have to be more aware and eliminate them as much as possible.
This team is the Green Bay Packers, not the Oakland Raiders. You can still be incredibly tough and physical and not take dumb penalties. Simply put, the Packers need to play with controlled anger in addition to their ferocity and tenacity and I expect they will address this issue.
4. Do. Your. Job.
Okay, so the Patriots say this all the time and even trademarked it, but after the Brandon Bostick debacle last year, I don’t think you can remind guys of this point enough.
Each player on the team, just like an Army platoon, has a job and responsibility on the field for every situation. It is when each person in the unit focuses on and performs only his job that the ultimate cohesion will take place. Of course, that requires the ultimate trust in the man on either side of you to know that he too will do his job, but with the Packers returning pretty much the entire roster from last year, that trust factor should be off the charts.
If every man on the team does the job he’s asked to do (cough, cough, Clay Matthews, cough, cough), then this team has an opportunity to be very special.
5. Finish the Fight
Not all games are going to be successful in achieving the death blow and going for the jugular. When that happens and it’s obvious that you’re in a real battle, that’s when the mantra changes and becomes “Finish the Fight.”
This is something the Packers have NEVER been good at under Mike McCarthy. The Packers often get out to big leads, but often times allow their opponents to crawl back into games. Unless you’re the Chicago Bears, if the Packers have a three-score lead on you late in the first half, it’s almost a given that Green Bay will put themselves in position to lose before the final gun sounds.
As Howard, one of my favorite people in the comments section of these pages, often likes to say: FINISH STRONG! This is something the Packers haven’t done and need to make a priority.
#1 and #5 are the same thing.
#2 Is right on. This team has become too predictable and (stale) in it’s play calling.
#3 I don’t agree at all. This Packer team, especially the defense has been described as “soft” and it was a rightfully earned reputation. This team needs more of Mike Daniels type of tenacity and passion. I have no problem with aggressive play, penalties be damned. I want to see this team fight and hit people with bad intentions.
#4 That’s on coaching. See Shawn Slocum.
When Slocum says “no one touches the ball but Jordy” before the kickoff, I don’t see how that’s on Slocum. Don’t get me wrong – I’m no fan of his, but this was ALL on Bostick.
agreed 100%. Bostick takes the rap for that dumb play.
Trust me, there were signs that Bostick wasn’t up to the task before that day. Part of Slocum’s job was fielding the right personnel and having the unit so prepared that mistakes like that weren’t even a possibility. Ultimate responsibility lands on Bostick’s shoulders, but Slocum assembled that unit.
But in order to get players to react properly (and as instructed) in the heat of the play, you need proper practice and coaching. And lots of it.
Bostick gets the blame for failing in that moment.
Slocum gets the blame for failing in the preparation for that moment.
Seems like a lot of this list was created as a result of the Seahawks loss in the playoffs.
But the Packers might have to do nothing to get past the Seahawks. They still haven’t signed Wilson and I believe they have only two choices, let go a bunch of good players or let go Wilson. And the situation just got much worse for the Seahawks when Ryan Tannehill signed a $19.25 million a year contract extension with the Dolphins.
Establish the run game early. Establish an early physical presence on offense. They did good in some games early on in the run game, but didn’t do it as consistently as you would like. That would help one of the staple facets of the west coast offense, the play action pass. Obviously the play of the defensive line must improve, and if they can play at a high level, this defense could be a special defense, especially given the versatility of the players they have on the field.
Imagine if Wilson finishes that drive in the Super Bowl. If he did, wouldn’t the Seahawks had to have overpaid him? But if he did finish it with a TD, maybe it would be hard to argue they were overpaying. They couldn’t possibly let him walk with 2 SBs in three years.
Now? It’s very interesting. I think they’ll work it out, but Wilson certainly isn’t afraid to take his talents elsewhere should it come to that.
Also, Seahawks fans are looking to raise five million dollars via crowd-funding to get Wilson to stay. I will patiently await the NFL smack down of this effort.
What wouldn’t surprise me would be if Wilson seemingly signs a bargain basement contract with the Seahawks then gets a huge undisclosed pay bump for his Microsoft appearances. Paul Allen is just the type of scum bag to do something like that.
There are a lot of fallacies here. 1 and 5 are basically the same. The packers have seemed to allow some teams back in the game but I think this mentality is overstated too much. What games exactly did the packers let the other team back in and lose?
I can sense the NFC championship game behind these points. The problem is that the packers never had a big lead in that game at any time. In a sense, the Packers did let Seattle back in the game, but at the same time not so much. A 12 point lead is less than two scores which is what the packers had with 5 minutes left. Seattle was in the game the whole time anyway. It just didn’t feel like it because they had no offense. You can’t really say that Green Bay let them back in the game when they were already in the game. If the packers had a 3 touchdown lead in the 4th quarter, then you could definitely make that argument. Otherwise not so much.
Brandon Bostick really was the lynchpin of this game. Had he just made his block for Nelson, the packers would have most likely got the ball back and would have won the game. No one would be thinking about the previous touchdown that Seattle scored. That’s how I look at it anyway. Yes, it would have been nice if the defense would not have allowed the initial comeback touchdown. But the defense did more than I expected for the whole game as well as the special teams. The packers could have had a 21 point lead at the end of the 4th quarter with the turnovers and amazing field position they gave to the offense.
We should be wondering: why was Jordy Nelson not targeted more often? The offense really sucked. Seattle is a great team too. Both teams stymied each other in various ways during that game. That’s what happens in a competitive game.
I meant to say “end of the 1st quarter”. For all of the turnovers that Green Bay got.
ours is not to worry about Wilson, but to let AR have some flexibility in the play calls. like pass when they load up for the run and run when they expect the pass. AR can manage that, if they let him.
Five Things Mike McCarthy Should Emphasize This Year:
1) Score more points than the other team.
2) Don’t let the opponent score more points than the Packers.
3) Accumulation of Packers’ points should exceed that of opposing team.
4) Adversary’s points cannot, under any circumstances, surpass that of the Packers’.
5) Packers must compile a higher score than any team not named The Green Bay Packers, in any given game, that the Packers participate in.
6) Any team, not from Green Bay, Wisconsin, which the Packers play, must not, in any scenario, acquire more points than the Green Bay Packers.
Nice work. That was funny.
Andrew: Agree with all five items and Lombardi would also as they all fall under a couple of his quotes.
“Two or three plays in a game spell victory or defeat; you never know when that play is coming up.”
“A winning football team must avoid mistakes with a passion; treat mistakes with a vengeance.”
I realize I’m going out on a limb here.. but….
I bet we win all the pre-season games this year.